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Munster make move for Rob Horne after Hanrahan exits

By Ruaidhri O’Connor

Munster are lining up Australia centre Rob Horne as a replacement for JJ Hanrahan who will join Northampton Saints at the end of the season.

The 25-times capped centre has emerged as the province’s primary target and efforts to land theWaratahs star have stepped up since the Kerry starlet informed them of his decision to quit and join the English champions at the end of the season on Tuesday.

Munster have also enquired as to All Black Ben Smith’s post-World Cup intentions, but Horne appears to be the more realistic option. They are likely to face competition from England and France for his signature.

Hanrahan is understood to have signed a three-year deal worth €170,000 a year on Monday having turned down a similar-length deal with his native province.

Munster yesterday confirmed that Ian Keatley, the man who has been keeping the 22-year-old out of the team, has signed a two-year contract to stay at Thomond Park, while academy prospect Jack O’Donoghue has penned a three-year deal and Cian Bohane and Shane Buckley have committed for another year.

Saints coach Jim Mallinder suggested a lack of first-team opportunities was the reason behind Hanrahan’s move.

“He’s not been played as regularly as he’s wanted to out there this season, he wanted a bit of a change to hopefully develop his game,” he said. “We need some strength in depth, JJ will come in and be a real option for us.

Foley targets Wallaby star as Hanrahan leaves for Northampton Saints

“He’s an exciting young player, who has played a number of times for Munster in a lot of top class games. He’s a very good goalkicker, he’s been playing at inside centre a fair bit so we think he’ll be brilliant for us here.

“We’ve got Stephen Myler, who is playing fantastically well, guiding the team at this moment, but we need a little bit of back-up in that area. We need somebody to push through and I’m sure JJ will do that.”

Munster are also hoping to lure Tomas O’Leary back to his home province with a one-year deal, but the player himself has yet to commit to a return.

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